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Are you signing a pre-nup?

I posted this on the student board for other law students / lawyers, but I think I'll get more responses here.

I'm in law school and I have worked in a family law firm, where I have witnessed first hand the sh1t shows that can ensue during divorce / custody battles.

I think pre-nups are very important, but when I mentioned to a few of my close girlfriends that I would be seeing a lawyer to draft a pre-nup, they looked at me as if I had 4 heads, or as if I am a cold-hearted bitch. 

I don't get it. It's not that I think my marriage is going to fail, I just hate the thought of the government dictating my life (and my fiance's life) should we decide to split. Further, fiance has a fat government pension, so I also think it's important for him to protect that as well. My dad also has a lot of money and property, and I want to protect my inheritance. It may seem cold, but I'm just trying to be realistic. 

I don't know. I just always feel  like I have to justify and explain myself when people ask me why the hell I am getting a pre-nup. My law student friends seem to agree with me, but my non-law student friends think I'm crazy. 

Also (sorry for the ramble), I would be interested in hearing the logistics surrounding your pre-nup? Did you go to one lawyer together? Because I will be a lawyer in a little over a year, I think it's vital to ensure there is no unconscionability, so I will be going to a lawyer first to draft up a pre-nup, and then I will put a clause in the pre-nup which makes it mandatory for my fiance to get his own independent legal advice to ensure that the pre-nup is fair in his eyes. 

I plan on discussing the following things. Think I am missing something?: spousal support, division of assets, mat. home, custody (I want joint), mandatory mediation, inheritance, pets (I get them and they are not to be separated.)
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Re: Are you signing a pre-nup?

  • No pre-nup for us.

    My fiance had a pre-nup in his last marriage. In spite of the fact that it had been completely drafted by qualified attorneys, people known in their field it was essentially dismissed in the divorce and he lost a great deal as a result.

    I am very torn about the whole notion of pre-nups. I am not romantic by nature, but practical. I understand why people want them.

    However, another and equally logical side of me feels that if you are that worried about your material stuff, why expose yourself to any risk at all by getting married in the first place? Seriously, you can have kids and shack up and the whole nine yards and never expose yourself to the financial risk of marriage. Of course, you have to personally way financial risks and benefits if you are calculating it that way. Things like getting vested in a partner's pension or perhaps a higher social security can be significant. So can the benefits of inheritance from a spouse without the tax burden, or even being able to file taxes jointly (for some, depends on your bracket).

    Then again (more "however"!) the question presents itself still, why are you getting married if you do not have enough trust in your partner and faith in your relationship to NOT plan for a divorce?




  • No pre-nup for us, but I don't think they're a bad idea.  I guess I'm just used to hearing celebrities and the super-rich signing pre-nups! Of course anything could happen (lottery?), but neither fiance or I will likely be living outside of middle class, so I'm not worried about getting my stuff snatched.
  • Not for us, but neither one of us have anything worth taking.  He doesn't care about the furniture (pretty much all mine, cheap, and mostly 2nd-hand) and I don't care about his fishing/hunting/trapping equipment.  In the event of a divorce I think the only thing we'd fight over are the pets...which I would end up with since I've had the cat since before we even met and the dog is registered under my name.  I don't see anything wrong with pre-nups...it's just pointless in our case.
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  • I don't know about the inheritance laws in your state, but in my state, he can't touch anything you inherit, even after the marriage. Any inherited property is seperate property in Louisiana, but you can stipulate otherwise. Anyway, I totally understand your point. I don't think that thinking you should have a prenup means you're cynical or already counting on your marriage to fail. The practicality of it outweighs the cynicism of it for me. But I work for attorneys :)
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  • I understand what you are saying, but honestly, I think they are a way for lawyers to make money.  They are dismissed and overturned in divorces all the time, so are they really worth the trouble and cost of creating them? 
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  • Here in Canada, prenups have to be updated all the time, whenever finances change.  I don't think I can deal with all of that.
  • We live in two different worlds. In my world, my fiance and I come from middle-class families, and we're putting eachother through grad school. We're broke. In your world, there are real assets to protect.

    People (like me) who are not in your position have no problem making judgments about pre-nups...it all sounds so cold and business-like. It's easy to be idealistic when you have nothing to lose. But if I was in your situation, a pre-nup would be a no-brainer. Realistically, marriages do fail. Even if you're sure yours won't, you should protect what is rightfully yours.

    A friend of mine started making amazing money at 23...he's a genius. He and his girlfriend bought a home together. He listed her name, though EVERYONE told him that was foolish. They broke up, and she demanded they sell the home and she got her 50% immediately. It was ugly.

    Don't listen to the romantics or idealists who tell you you're being cold. Do what's right for YOU. Honestly, in your situation, your relationship will probably fare better if the "what if" fear is removed...you'll have a happier relationship if you don't have to WORRY about what will happen if it doesn't work out.
  • JHS16JHS16 member
    100 Comments
    I'm also a family law attorney in Washington state.  While I've drafted prenuptial agreements in some cases, we usually recommend them only for particular circumstances, such as to protect children from other relationships, if one spouse has a much greater earning potential than the other, or if either spouse is entering the marriage with at least $250,000 in assets.   

    My fiance is also a family law attorney and since we are entering our marriage with nothing but student loans, we have decided there is no need for a prenuptial agreement.  

    Good luck and congrats on your pending graduation and marriage!
  • I think pre-nups are more appropriate for extremely wealthy individuals with uneven assets.  In your case, it sounds like a fine precaution (although it's not very romantic).
  • Heck yeah we have one - and with all the disclosures, it's like an inch thick - yikes!!!! Like JHS16 said - people with assets. In our case, I have quite a bit of stuff and financial assets and he had nothing but his army medical retirement check and all of his stuff together he could fit in just his beater car.  He's divorced (very messy) and had a kid whom he pays child support to. I am stationed in Germany and while the laws here are very clear that new spouses have NO responsiblity to children of former marriages, I wanted to make sure that everything is kept as separate property during the marriage so there would never be any doubt (our home of record is Texas which has community property and we didn't want that either).  Even with the laws being crystal clear, the greedy ex-wife is still trying to figure out ways to get more money out of him just because he 'hooked up with money' - witch.
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  • I understand why some couples have a pre-nup but my FI and I are going into this close to equal.  We already co-own the home.  So there isn't a need for one.
  • 50% of marriages end in divorce. I think it's a great idea to have a pre nup. I will sign one, even though I know my finace's character and he knows mine. We have been together over 5 years and are older. Both divorced.
    But I still want to be protected and so does he.
    We have some assets like our 401K's  and savings accounts, and we each own a home. but we aren't wealthy.
  • Speaking as someone that has been through a very yucky divorce:

    1. What you decide as a "couple in love about to get married", will change if and or when the relationship gets to the point of divorce.

    2. Mediation is the way to go, When X and I split there were alot of hurt feelings, and we both reacted by our feelings, which evolved more hurtful things said and done.  It was a vicious circle.  I wish we would have been smart enough to seek a mediator from the beginning of our split.

    3. I agree with most people above, if you don't have much it seems pointless to sign a pre-nup.  I would definately consider it though if I had something valuable to protect (such as inheritance)

    4. as far as children go, I think someone said it above, life changes and the custody of the children is determined by today's circumstances not on what two people decided 5 years ago.
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  • i feel like signing a prenup is kind of foreshadowing that you think you could be divorced one day. doubts like that are scary... especially when youre not even married yet.
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  • In Response to Re: Are you signing a pre-nup?:
    [QUOTE]i feel like signing a prenup is kind of foreshadowing that you think you could be divorced one day. doubts like that are scary... especially when youre not even married yet.
    Posted by LindsayAnne823[/QUOTE]

    And I tend to think that mindsets that aren't realistic about life or have fantasy notions about love and marriage are equally scary.
  • In Response to Re: Are you signing a pre-nup?:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: Are you signing a pre-nup? : And I tend to think that mindsets that aren't realistic about life or have fantasy notions about love and marriage are equally scary.
    Posted by Joy2611[/QUOTE]


    A study was just released that couples who get divorced have just as many arguements and disagreements as couples who stay together.  the key difference is in the solving of those problems. so, i dont think i would consider myself a fantasizer at all.  every couple needs to have a problem solving plan in place before you get married.. one to help you get through these issues that marriage brings.

    i understand that the divorce rate is 50% but i also think that it doesnt need to be that way. a lot of people give up when things get tough instead of fighting their hearts out to get through it.
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  • We aren't signing  a prenup because, like pp, we make equal amounts of money and neither of us have any assets being brought into the marriage. 

    As far as logistics go, I think its common to have two attorneys, so that it can be determind that neither party is being unduly influenced or taken advantage of. 
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  • I would have to agree with Trae. I am inheriting quite a bit of money from my grandparents in the next 10 years and I've always been told, it's mine and no one elses. My fiance is finishing up law school and agrees that a pre-nup would be a smart move but it will be done by someone else.
  • We were going to sign one, but time just got away from us. Besides, neither of us has any money anyway. But, we do both have our own respective businesses that if we do make money, will not be sharing with the other should we decide to split.
  • I understand why some people need them as unpleasant as they may seem to think about. However, DH and I literally started with "nothing": we each came into the relationship with a car that is almost 10 years old and that was pretty much it. Our condo is the only property we own, and we bought that together. So to us, it really just wastn't worth it to get one.

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  • I do not think that having a pre-nup is foreshadowing anything.  It doesn't mean that you think you might get a divorce or have doubts.  It means that if you do get divorced you get to keep everything you worked so hard for or have inherited.  Pre-nups may not be romantic but they are smart, if you have the assets to protect. 
  • No way! FI and I have been together 8 years and although we haven't been married we are going into this knowing that marriage is work, its a team effort. We're not going in with the "in case this fails" mentality. 
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  • In Response to Re: Are you signing a pre-nup?:
    [QUOTE]We live in two different worlds. In my world, my fiance and I come from middle-class families, and we're putting eachother through grad school. We're broke. In your world, there are real assets to protect. People (like me) who are not in your position have no problem making judgments about pre-nups...it all sounds so cold and business-like. It's easy to be idealistic when you have nothing to lose. But if I was in your situation, a pre-nup would be a no-brainer. Realistically, marriages do fail. Even if you're sure yours won't, you should protect what is rightfully yours. A friend of mine started making amazing money at 23...he's a genius. He and his girlfriend bought a home together. He listed her name, though EVERYONE told him that was foolish. They broke up, and she demanded they sell the home and she got her 50% immediately. It was ugly. Don't listen to the romantics or idealists who tell you you're being cold. Do what's right for YOU. Honestly, in your situation, your relationship will probably fare better if the "what if" fear is removed...you'll have a happier relationship if you don't have to WORRY about what will happen if it doesn't work out.
    Posted by riverjib[/QUOTE]


    I agree with the above..... when you have a lot to lose.. protect it. But when you don't... pre nups aren't a priority as there would be nothing to really list.
  • We are, his grandfather requires it or he disinherits his grandkids.  It basically protects any inheritances either of us receives, and that's all.  
  • We just made ours online last night, in fact. I have a lot of inheritance money already, so my mom convinced me that we should have one. We just made online at LawDepot.com for $25. She did tell me that she talked to her lawyer about it and she said that in Indiana the only way the prenup would work is for assets and debts you have in one or ther other person's name, not both. Anything in both names the prenup would not cover and would be split 50/50.
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  • We are going to have one, my father is insisting on it.  He's been divorced twice, and the divorce from my mother was very nasty.  I am due to inherit a fair amount of money in the next 10 years and I have a pension to protect, and FI has a lot of money in his retirement account.  I think that pre-nups, when there are individual assets when entering a marriage, while not romantic are practical, and hopefully, never needed.
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  • My father wants me to have one since I will be inheriting money through him from my grandfather somewhere down the road. I do not plan to include any of the other stuff (kids, pets, etc.) in the pre-nup. It's just to protect the inheritance. I am going into the marriage with more money saved - my Christmas money from Grampa over the years will be the down-payment on our house - but aside from that we're equals financially.
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  • We're not...I'm like a lot of those above. I don't feel the need to "protect" anything from the man I'm about to marry. We're going into this 100% together.

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  • We are not doing a pre-nup, even though our assets are somewhat uneven.  We are however, setting up living trusts that protect our assets separately.  This is mostly because I have been seriously ill in the past, and had to deal with the aftermath of serious medical expenses.  When we have kids, if I was to have a recurrence of my illness, or if anything was to happen to either of us, we want our children to be protected from financial harm. 
  • Nope. We definitely discussed it, but in the end we decided that none of us really have anything extremely valuable. And besides, I have heard good and bad things about them. I would rather have the $ on my wedding than wasting it on some piece of paper. I believe that once you get married, what is his is yours, and vice versa.
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